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Posts published in “Day: March 18, 2009”

DeFazio and security theatre

Peter DeFazio

Peter DeFazio

Too bad if Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio didn't blow up at airport security (minus the "do you know who you're talking to" bit - that part wouldn't have been excusable). He has said, counter to a report in Roll Call, that he didn't invoke his title or create a "ruckus" when he was pulled out of line at Portland, while making a flight, for a random security check. Elements of the Roll Call report, a brief item, which said that additional security was called on DeFazio, evidently have not checked out.

He was quoted this way: "I didn't lose my temper. I was not happy and I told them it was a stupid practice."

Good. More people should be doing that. We need more ruckuses.

Carla Axtman at Blue Oregon recalled in a post today that "Last week when flying out of Denver, I was pulled out of line for a random security check (after already having my ID and boarding pass reviewed twice). Having removed my shoes, coat, scarf, jewelry, and apparently my dignity, I was forced to stand inside a rotating silver container that resembled a cylindrical phone booth. While the machine went through the scanning process, I was talked through a series of arm and foot movements while the rest of the line gaped."

This isn't security. It is, as Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg has reported, "security theatre" which is "designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items." As Goldberg repeatedly has, just to make the point. (His article is highly recommended.)

We can come up with only one practical reason for this exercise: To get Americans more accustomed to the idea that they have no right to privacy, that there's no legal bar to search and seizure, that they are cattle and not citizens. That may sound a little conspiracy-headed, but no better explanation comes to mind.

Meantime, as to DeFazio: Come back at it again, maybe a little harder next time.